Consultation launched which could mark the end of live exports

Live exports at Ramsgate Photo Chris Constantine

Plans to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening have been unveiled by the Environment Secretary.

The proposals – which have been welcomed by South Thanet MP, Craig Mackinlay – form part of an eight-week consultation to launch in England and Wales tomorrow (December 3), seeking views on how to better protect animal welfare during transport.

Live animals commonly have to endure excessively long journeys via Ramsgate Port, often causing needless distress and injury. Previously, EU rules prevented any changes to the trade under Single Market rules but leaving the EU enables the UK Government to pursue plans to become the first country in Europe to end the practice.

The government is also consulting on proposals to further improve animal welfare in transport more generally such as: reducing maximum journey times; giving animals more space and headroom during transports; strengthening rules on transporting animals in extreme temperatures.

Mr Mackinlay said: “As I expected, with Brexit talks approaching some kind of conclusion, the issue of live transports via Ramsgate Port has climbed up the political ladder.

“This is a totemic issue for me and I will work with Conservative Ministers and backbenchers to put a stop to this foul and unnecessary trade until we are successful.

“We can now re-think the length of journeys for all farmed animals; I should additionally like to see local farming with local slaughter guaranteeing quality and unnecessarily long transport times.”

Photo Carl Hudson

Environment Secretary, George Eustice added: “We are committed to improving the welfare of animals at all stages of life. Today marks a major step forward in delivering on our manifesto commitment to end live exports for slaughter.

“Now that we have left the EU, we have an opportunity to end this unnecessary practice. We want to ensure that animals are spared stress prior to slaughter.”

Around 6,400 animals were transported from the UK directly to slaughter in continental Europe in 2018, based on internal figures.

At Kent County Council in October leader Roger Gough said exports from Ramsgate would end when new ‘Brexit’ regulations come into force on January 1, 2021.

Live animal exports Picture credit: James Shaughnessy.

However, county councillor Karen Constantine, who represents Ramsgate and also wants an end to the trade, has asked for clarification as it is at odds with information contained in the authority’s EU Transition Preparedness report which highlights continuing trade in fish and day old chicks.

Cllr Constantine has queried whether fish and day old chicks will pass through Ramsgate. She has also asked what welfare checks will be in place, especially if delays occur.

The UK currently exports millions of chicks a year in an industry that was worth £139m in 2018.

The consultation takes into account the responses to the 2018 Call for Evidence, as well as the report published by the then Farm Animal Welfare Committee (now known as the Animal Welfare Committee), which is made up of farming and veterinary  experts, into the existing welfare standards for animals during transport.

Chris Sherwood, CEO for the RSPCA said: “We welcome plans to end live exports and look forward to seeing this happen as the RSPCA has campaigned on this issue for more than 50 years.

“There is absolutely no reasonable justification to subject an animal to an unnecessarily stressful journey abroad simply for them to be fattened for slaughter.

“Ending live exports for slaughter and further fattening would be a landmark achievement for animal welfare.”

KAALE (Kent Action Against Live Exports) said: “There is no need for yet another consultation. We had one three years ago and feel the NFU didn’t get the result they wanted so this is to pacify them.

“We need the ban from Ramsgate as soon as possible because after the amount of evidence of breaches of welfare and transport laws we have catalogued through our constant monitoring and FOI requests they have all the evidence they need.”

The consultation can be accessed here.


  1. This was on the cards as soon as we left the EU it is logical all the demos were unnecessary it is cruel there is people in Ramsgate who want to stay in the EU knowing this would continue. Before the EU all animals were slaughtered humanely in slaughterhouses. Many traditional butchers used to do this on their premises. If transported they were packed and chilled and sent abroad. The EU stopped this practice and created this cruelty. Hopefully soon this will all end. Why send abroad when EU country’s can produce and eat their own seems ridiculous to send them on the hoof to be slaughtered in the EU and we have to buy back our own animals. Roll on 1st January.

    • I would like to stay in the EU and I would also like live exports for slaughter to be banned. These two wishes are not incompatible. We had MEPS- they could have argued strongly for this.

  2. For the most these poor animal are being sent to be ritually killed for Halal meat, which if you check, is done by Muslims who slit the animals throat!
    Its totally unnecessary, as Halal meat is sold in Britain after the animal is first stunned in an approved slaughterhouse!

  3. Decades campaigning for this cruel, miserable and nefarious trade to end. At last the end of this dreadful animal suffering is in sight. Shame on the UK for not ending it sooner….a small step to ban a vile world-wide, barbaric business !!!!

    • Unfortunately the UK Government or TDC are powerless to stop the cruel trade, until we leave The EU. As the multi million fine TDC was forced to pay when they tried. So just have to hope we get out at the end of December. Just think how many animals would have not to suffer, if we left in 2016. Instead of 4 years of fighting the vote.

      • We have left the EU Tony, its just that the Terms & Conditions are still be argued over! This meant no one who voted to leave knew what they voted for! My newspaper this morning said we can expect food shortages in the new year, why because many EU traders are objecting to having to wait at inland ports to have their cargoes checked, either entering or leaving the UK! Its dead money as far as they are concerned, having a truck driver sitting around, until they have got all the paper work sorted! Incidentally, why is there any need for “consultation”, we all know its a vile cruel trade, so why not just suspend further exports? over to you Mackinlay!

    • So totally agree…I have been campaigning since 1972 against this appalling trade…agree 100% in what you say….over the decades, seen the most appalling ‘ritual slaughter’ up close & the horror is something no sane or compassionate human being can erase from their memory nor sight! These animals with British ear-tags!!!! I will never give up the fight against the years of lies spun by the UK & EU….
      & the forever lying excuses of the NFU!!!
      I was born & grew up in a farming community….I know the vile undercurrent of ‘dirty money’ & ‘ dirty practices’, by vile individuals who wouldn’t understand
      cruelty & inhumanity if it slapped them in the face!!!
      We will not allow these moronic individuals & their lies & nefarious practices ( like a pretend Mafia!!??), to cloud the judgement of sane, compassionate people, the world over who can see how morally wrong this devastingly cruel trade is…A licence to cause endless misery to innocent animals!!!!

  4. The government should help farmers who cannot afford it to construct small abattoirs on their farms, thus reducing the distances which animals travel before slaughter.

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